In the world of construction and electrical contracting, safety is paramount. This includes when working from hights. Too often people think “working from heights” means skyscraper construction and similar, but the reality is that a fall from a single storey high can cause serious harm, and any work site that involves work from even that height needs to take fall prevention and protection seriously.

To put it into context, falls from heights account for around 13% of worker fatalities. It’s a big enough percentage that all sites should be taking tis far more seriously.

The Importance of Workplace Safety
Ensuring the safety of workers is not just a legal requirement but also a moral and ethical obligation for employers. It’s also, simply, good business. Companies that prioritise safety not only protect their employees but also boost productivity and reduce the financial burden of workplace accidents.

When it comes to fall prevention, there are a number of steps that companies should take. Firstly, the risk of a fall should be catalogued in the SWMS document prepared ahead of work, and plans to mitigate against the risk need to be clearly articulated. From there, organisations should make sure that their workers have access to the right fall protection equipment at all times.

The Range of Fall Protection Equipment
Fall protection equipment comes in various forms, each designed to address specific needs and scenarios. Here are some key types of fall protection equipment that NECA encourages contractors to utilise:

  1. Safety Harnesses:
    Safety harnesses are a fundamental component of fall protection gear. They are designed to distribute the impact force across the wearer’s body in the event of a fall. These harnesses include straps, buckles, and D-rings for connecting to anchor points. It’s crucial that you ensure that the equipment remains high-quality, with well-fitted safety harnesses to ensure the utmost protection for workers.

  2. Lifelines and Lanyards:
    Lifelines and lanyards are essential components that prevent workers from falling to lower levels. A lifeline is typically a flexible rope or cable attached to an anchor point, while lanyards are shorter and connect the worker’s harness to the lifeline. These components act as a lifeline, allowing workers to move around while maintaining a secure connection to the anchor point.

  3. Guardrails and Safety Nets:
    In some situations, installing guardrails or safety nets can provide passive fall protection. Guardrails create a barrier that prevents workers from unintentionally stepping or falling off an elevated surface, while safety nets can catch a falling worker, reducing the potential for injury.

  4. Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS):
    Personal fall arrest systems are comprehensive solutions that include harnesses, lifelines or lanyards, and anchor points. These systems are designed to quickly arrest a fall and minimize the impact force on the worker. PFAS is a critical component of fall protection, especially for tasks that involve climbing or working on elevated structures.

  5. Aerial Lifts and Platforms:
    For tasks that require workers to access elevated positions, such as electrical installations, NECA encourages the use of aerial lifts and platforms. These equipment options provide a secure and stable working surface, reducing the risk of falls. Proper training is also essential when operating these devices.

Equipment Must Be Supported By Action
It’s also important that people aren’t just well equipped. They should also be well trained and knowledgeable about how to use this equipment effectively.

This training should be supplied by proven experts, and it’s important that your people go through frequent re-training. As with all matters of safety, it’s not a “once and you’re done,” matter. Ongoing training helps ensure that everyone on the worksite understands their safety obligations and best practices.

A Commitment That All Share
Elevating workplace safety by preventing falls and injuries is not just a responsibility; it’s a shared commitment to the well-being of all workers in the construction and electrical contracting industries.

By emphasising the importance of fall prevention and providing contractors with the tools and knowledge they need, it’s possible to run a site where workers can operate at heights with confidence. NECA has all the support materials that you need to deliver on this obligation to your people, so contact us if you have any questions, and make sure that you’re doing the right thing by your business and people.